Senate Effort to Unanimously Pass Permanent Extension of 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Blocked
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by Countable | 7.17.19
Updated 7/17/19 - Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to ask for the passage of the Never Forget the Heroes Act (H.R. 1327) by unanimous consent, only to be met with an objection from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Paul explained that he opposes the bill in its current form because it doesn't offset the funding required to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through FY2090, so he objected to the request to ensure he can cast a roll call vote against it at a later date.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that the bill will receive a vote before his chamber adjourns for August recess, although it's unclear when that will occur and whether it will be considered as a standalone bill or attached to other legislation.
Updated 7/12/19 - The House passed the Never Forget the Heroes Act (H.R. 1327) on a bipartisan 402-12 vote. It now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has committed to holding a vote before the chamber adjourns for its August recess.
Countable's original story appears below.
The financially beleaguered September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is set get relief from Congress in the coming weeks, as leadership in both chambers of Congress have announced plans to vote on a bill funding the VCF permanently.
The fund was last authorized in 2015 through fiscal year 2020, but the VCF’s administrators announced benefit cuts earlier this year because an influx of claims by 9/11 first responders and victims who have contracted illnesses from exposure to toxins at Ground Zero has depleted the approved funding faster than anticipated.
On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the House will this Friday on the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (H.R. 1327). It’s named after several 9/11 first responders who died of illnesses connected to their work at Ground Zero.
Introduced by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Pete King (R-NY), the bill would effectively serve as a permanent reauthorization of the VCF by providing funding for claims through fiscal year 2090. It’s expected to pass in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote given that it has already gained 332 cosponsors, including 236 Democrats and 96 Republicans.
In a late June meeting with 9/11 victims, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) committed to holding a vote on the legislation in his chamber before the Senate adjourns for recess in August ― although it’s unclear whether it will be considered as standalone legislation or attached to a broader bipartisan bill (like a conference report that compromises between the House and Senate defense authorization bills).
The Senate’s identical companion bill (S. 546) was introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) and has the backing of 71 bipartisan cosponsors, so the bill should cruise through Senate whenever it comes up for a vote.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: New York National Guard Photo / Creative Commons)
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